An ac­cent on­pas­sion

Sofia Ver­gara dis­cov­ered blon­des don’t have more fun, writes Colin Vick­ery

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Cover Story -

THE per­son Sofia Ver­gara phoned when she was nom­i­nated for an Emmy Award last year was her 19-year-old son Manolo. She wanted to rub it in. The nom­i­na­tion for Out­stand­ing Sup­port­ing Ac­tress in a Com­edy Se­ries was a turn­ing point in her life, high­light­ing the 38-year-old’s against-theodds rise to star­dom.

The Colom­bian beauty has beaten thy­roid cancer, en­dured di­vorce, the mur­der of her older brother, lan­guage dif­fi­cul­ties and racial prej­u­dice to be­come a com­edy icon as the fiery Glo­ria Del­gadoPritch­ett on Mod­ern Fam­ily.

Along the way she has dated stars in­clud­ing Tom Cruise, Craig David, En­rique Iglesias and Mark Wahlberg.

Manolo, who had been there through it all, wasn’t al­ways sup­port­ive of his mother’s acting as­pi­ra­tions.

‘‘ When I started acting, I didn’t have any­one to run (au­di­tion) lines with me, and the only one in my house was him (Manolo),’’ Ver­gara says.

‘‘ I’mlike, ‘ Manolo, I will give you five bucks if you read with me’. He would be so an­noyed.

‘‘ He speaks English per­fect, Span­ish per­fect, no ac­cent. He would cor­rect me with a word and then I would do it wrong so he would say, ‘ Don’t even go (to the au­di­tion). They won’t un­der­stand any­thing’.

‘‘ When I was nom­i­nated for the Emmy, the first thing I did was rub it in his face. It was like, ‘ I did it, even with the ac­cent’.’’

Ver­gara brought her son, mother and sis­ter to the US af­ter the 1998 mur­der of her older brother Rafael. Colom­bia was a crime-rid­den, drug­fu­elled dan­ger zone.


‘‘ My older brother was as­sas­si­nated, so I had to get my fam­ily out and get them to Mi­ami,’’ Ver­gara has said.

‘‘ We come from a suc­cess­ful fam­ily and he knew he was a tar­get for kid­nap­ping. He al­ways had body­guards. Then one day he went out alone and was shot dead.

‘‘ I was dev­as­tated. You don’t get over some­thing like that eas­ily.’’

There is no doubt­ing the spirit of the curvy 36DD brunette. She also had to battle a killer disease.

‘‘ I was very lucky. I had thy­roid cancer, but they caught it at an early stage. It was ter­ri­fy­ing, but I knew I’d beat it,’’ she says.

Ver­gara, who had stud­ied to be a den­tist, was a noted model and tele­vi­sion host of Span­ish­language travel se­ries Fuera de serie (Out of the Or­di­nary).

Crack­ing the US mar­ket was go­ing to be a whole lot harder.

It was im­me­di­ately clear that Ver­gara’s heavy ac­cent was go­ing to work against her, de­spite her strik­ing looks (she is a nat­u­ral blonde).

‘‘ It was very dif­fi­cult for me. You re­alise that a nor­mal Amer­i­can ac­tress gets to do an au­di­tion ev­ery day or two,’’ she says.

‘‘ A per­son with my ac­cent gets a good script once a week or ev­ery two weeks.

‘‘ Most of the roles I played be­fore it (Mod­ern Fam­ily) were writ­ten for a black woman or an Asian woman. I would tell my agents, ‘ I will go for it any­ways, maybe they will change it’.’’

Back then, be­ing a blonde didn’t help, ei­ther. Ver­gara de­cided to go brunette, with in­stant re­sults.

‘‘ They (pro­duc­ers) didn’t know where to put me be­cause I had the ac­cent, the attitude and the body (of the stereo­typ­i­cal Latin woman), but I was blonde,’’ she says.

‘‘ They know more Salma Hayek and Pene­lope Cruz — dark skin, brunette hair.

‘‘ I did it (went brunette) for a movie and im­me­di­ately I started get­ting jobs, then I re­ally be­came hot and Latin.’’

The mak­ers of Mod­ern Fam­ily cre­ated the Glo­ria char­ac­ter around Ver­gara.

Glo­ria is the younger wife of Jay Pritch­ett (Ed O’Neill). Like Ver­gara, she has a teenage son Manny (Rico Ro­driguez II).

Glo­ria’s man­gled English­language mis­pro­nun­ci­a­tions lit­tered with spurts of un­in­tel­li­gi­ble Span­ish are high­lights of the hit sit­com.

‘‘ It (Glo­ria) is a lot of me,’’ Ver­gara says.

‘‘ I play a Latin woman, volup­tuous, loud, and pas­sion­ate. For me, I wouldn’t want to be de­scribed any other way. I don’t want to be de­scribed as quiet, with no a---, and bor­ing.

‘‘ So I am not afraid of be­ing the stereo­type of the Latin woman. I think there is noth­ing wrong with that stereo­type.’’ Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by

Grant Rollings Mod­ern Fam­ily, Chan­nel 10, Sun­day 7.30pm

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